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Since 1994, World Teachers’ Day has been celebrated annually on October 5th. This observance draws attention to the contributions of teachers in educating their communities and developing a more inclusive and sustainable society.
This year’s theme, “The right to education means the right to a qualified teacher”, highlights the fact that the right to education cannot be achieved without the opportunity to access learning through teachers who are trained and qualified to do their job. UNESCO-UNEVOC recognizes that the quality of TVET teacher training is a critical factor in developing the skills of the future workforce. Empowered TVET teachers and trainers can become agents of change in transforming TVET and championing inclusion at their respective institutions.
A qualified teacher can make a substantial impact on a student’s life. For World Teachers’ Day, UNESCO-UNEVOC takes the opportunity to share an experience from Mr. Lennox Mkoma, Acting Principal of the Chilobwe Community Technical College in Blantyre, Malawi. Mr. Mkoma gives a first-hand account of how his College managed to facilitate learning for a vocational training student with Special Educational Needs (SENs). In this role, Mr. Mkoma not only tapped into his function as a leader, but also seized the opportunity to increase the capacity of the teaching staff in his College.
As cocks start to crow, she wakes up and starts preparations for the day’s schedule. Dorothy Kamlaza is a forty-one year old, mother of one. She lives in her mother’s house together with her daughter and her sister. Life as a struggling single-mother has made her feel hopeless. Despite several attempts, she still has not managed to make the necessary improvements in her life.
In January 2018, she successfully starts a course in Tailoring and Fashion Design at Chilobwe Community College. She sees this course as a step towards her far-fetched dream of self-reliance. However, as Dorothy has physical disabilities in both legs, operating the sewing machine treadle plate proves a difficult task.
Without any formal means of transportation, the only alternative is travelling by foot. Slouching effortlessly on crutches along the dusty, bumpy and narrow road, Dorothy takes her steps towards her hope for the future. Chilobwe Community Technical College is situated four kilometres from her home. The College is one of 13 launched in January 2015 by the Malawian government. It is part of a policy aimed at providing greater access to Technical and Vocational Education (TVET) across the country.
Dorothy has been admitted under a government-sponsored programme, whereby students pay less than a quarter of total training costs. Despite her physical challenges, she is charming, goal-oriented, hardworking, compassionate, and sociable. Unfortunately, she spends the entire first term (January-March) without doing any tangible practical work due to the lack of capacity at the institution. Throughout this time, she never ceases to ask the Principal for a solution to her predicament. She continues this way for an entire term, with assurances from the Principal of a possible breakthrough in the future.
Once given the basic resources, Dorothy is ready to stand on her own and generate income for self-sustenance, even before she finishes her level one in December 2018. As more situations like that of Dorothy are likely to arise in the future, we further extend requests for capacity building programmes at our institution. Finally, we look forward to closer and meaningful collaboration with equally concerned organizations and stakeholders, towards empowering people with Special Educational Needs through sustainable vocational skills for lifelong satisfaction.
Lennox Mkoma, Acting Principal
Chilobwe Community Technical College - Centre for Sustainable Vocational Skills
Note: Mr Mkoma is one of the 127 participants trained under the UNESCO-UNEVOC Management Capacity Building Programme for TEVET Training Providers in Malawi, implemented under the Skills and Technical Education Programme (STEP). STEP is funded by the EU and is a collaboration between the EU, UNESCO, and the Government of Malawi.